6 June 2024

Members of the Opposition described the 3.3 trillion baht 2021 fiscal budget as being disconnected from reality, with a likelihood that a large portion of the money will be wasted. They also accused the Government of total indifference to the severity of the economic crisis facing the country, by formulating the budget as if the country’s economy is in a normal condition.

In a Facebook post today, as the House began the 2021 budget debate, Pheu Thai party’s chief strategist said that Thailand is now facing an “economic tsunami” which will intensify. Khunying Sudarat said that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet are simply dividing up a big cake, to be shared out among the bureaucrats and merchants.

She pointed out that 80% of the 3.3 trillion baht budget is reserved for normal public sector funding, leaving only about 20%, or 600 billion baht, for investment in economic development, adding that most of the budget appears not to be intended to create jobs, but to build roads, to fund arms procurements and for training courses.

Khunying Sudarat also claimed that the current Prime Minister of Thailand has, cumulatively, spent more taxpayer money than any of his predecessors. The total amount is 7.5 trillion baht, including 3.2 trillion baht for 2020 fiscal year, 3.3 trillion baht for the 2021 fiscal year, plus one trillion baht of additional borrowing.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Anudit Nakorntap accused the Prime Minister of creating more public debt for Thailand than any other Prime Minister, with public sector borrowing ballooning to 6.98 trillion baht, taking the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

He said he would prefer to call the Prime Minister “the Borrower of the Chao Phraya River Basin” for plunging every Thai citizen into an average debt of 125,000 baht.

As for the budget bill, Anudit said it was drafted before the COVID-19 outbreak and the Government has not bothered to adjust it since, adding that, in addition to increasing the national debt, tax collection in the past five years has failed to meet targets.

Kao Klai party leader Pita Limcharoenrat said he has been scrutinizing the budget bill for a week and feels that it was drafted as though Thailand were free of any crisis.

He said he does not think the Government can meet the challenges with the usual budgetary strategy, focused on funding the bureaucracy and infrastructure projects.

Pita predicted that the Thai people will suffer further, starting next month, when state subsidies they have received to date dry up, noting that 15 million debtors will be required to make repayments in September and about eight million people will be unemployed, not including new graduates.